By: Alaina D’Anzi
When Jessica first stepped onto a DC Habitat site, she had no prior construction experience. “I wanted to give back to the community and be a role model for my son. I’m teaching him that if you have the ability to help, you should, and that making the world a better place can start with him.” She was inspired to pass on the values of service that her father instilled in her, and her commitment is clear: since she started serving with DC Habitat less than two years ago she’s logged nearly 500 volunteer hours, and in that time she’s learned a lot.
“As an independent woman, volunteering on the construction site is empowering.” In addition to learning hands-on skills to tackle basic home repairs, being a Crew Leader had made her a more understanding leader and a better communicator. Supervising volunteers on Habitat sites—many of whom, like Jessica, have no experience in construction—requires the ability to give and receive clear directions so that everyone understands what they’re doing and how to do it safely.
Volunteering with DC Habitat wasn’t just about home building for Jessica, but relationship building. She’s given back to the community, but also gained friends in staff and AmeriCorps members. “My favorite parts of this whole experience have been getting to know two groups of AmeriCorps members and being a witness to the transition between the first group completing their service term to watching the second group grow and fall into their roles.” Additionally, having volunteered with DC Habitat prior to the second AmeriCorps group begin their service term, Jessica enjoys being considered a role model to AmeriCorps members and volunteers alike.
Through her experiences with DC Habitat, Jessica now feels even more driven and morally obligated to give back to her community. She finds comfort in knowing her volunteer hours have impacted someone else’s life and her drive to serve is evident in her life outside Habitat as well. Jessica is starting medical school in the fall and plans to pursue a medical career in the Navy. Her personal experiences as a teen mom have inspired her to also use her future medical career to work to reduce health care disparities in the inner city. It is with the help of exceptional community members like Jessica that we are able to build safe, affordable homes for families in need. Today and every day we applaud Jessica for her continued support and dedication.
We asked Jessica what advice she has for anyone thinking about volunteering. “You get to meet amazing people from all backgrounds, have a positive impact on society, and learn new skills while becoming more aware of the issues in your community. As a mother, I chose to volunteer with DC Habitat because I knew it would have an impact on [local] families…Helping families secure stable housing [means] that children are more likely to continue on with their education and break the cycle of poverty, which is a cause I am deeply motivated to dedicate my time to.”